We all do it. The minute we decide to move out to a home of our own, we’re imagining creating the perfect meal in the perfect kitchen outfitted with the perfect pots and pans.
For most of us—myself included—that means a 10-piece set that includes everything from a giant roasting pan to a teeny-tiny frying pan, which goes from the box to the cupboard and never sees the light of day after that.
Typically, these inexpensive cooking sets are coated with a nonstick surface like Teflon. And we love them because we can make an egg and it’ll slide right off the pan onto the plate. But there’s something else that might come with those eggs: Infertility.
What is Teflon? It’s a chemical typically made from polytetraflouroethylene (PTFE) and manufactured using perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8), both of which are perfluorochemicals, better known as PFCs.
What is Teflon? It’s the stuff makes your egg slide off of the pan. But studies have shown links to infertility. A UCLA study showed that women with higher levels of PFCs in their blood were twice as likely to be diagnosed with infertility. A more recent study also linked PFOAs to thyroid disease and colitis.
Obviously, these pans are bad news. So what do you do if you already have those “perfect” pots and pans? If you can’t afford to overhaul your whole kitchen, start with those that are scratched, as they’re more likely to leach these toxic chemicals into your food. Replace pans with metal versions that don’t have a non-stick coating. And if you don’t want to dump your Teflon-coated pans in the landfill, you can get them sand-blasted down to a stainless steel base and either continue to use or recycle them.
When replacing pans, look for those that are stainless steel, like this Cuisinart Open Skillet. Ceramic coated works great too—and is beautiful, too boot; although Le Creuset can get expensive, there are some good buys like this gorgeous sky-blue Le Creuset Covered Stockpot. I love my super inexpensive Danny Seo Everyday Fry Pan, which is brilliantly non-stick but PFOA-free. This super affordable Green Earth Frying Pan is also PFOA-free and ceramic coated. And you can also Craig’s List “pre-seasoned” classic iron skillets for next to nothing.
Finally, think about the pans that you actually do use—for me, it’s pretty much down to three: A frying pan, a broiler and a big pot. And that feeds a family of five. Replacing those that you really need is much more affordable than going whole hog for a set.
Because who really uses that teeny-tiny frying pan, anyway?